Scotland and Wales declare climate emergencies

A wall art reported to be a new Banksy artwork in Marble Arch in London, Britain, 26 April 2019. The new wall art is at the site of the Extinction Rebellion camp at Marble Arch where climate change demonstrators protested for more than a week in London. [Photo: EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN]

The devolved Scottish and Welsh parliaments have separately declared climate emergencies, citing the threats of climate change, just as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is expected to push Westminster to do the same for the whole of the UK.

On Monday (29 April), Welsh Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths announced the government declaration, citing the impact climate change threatens to make on public health, the economy and the natural environment.

“I believe we have the determination and ingenuity in Wales to deliver a low carbon economy at the same time as making our society fairer and healthier,” Griffiths said.

She added that “no nation in the world has yet fully grasped this challenge but just as Wales played a leading role in the first industrial revolution, I believe Wales can provide an example to others of what it means to achieve environmental growth.”

The Welsh announcement followed a move by Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, who made a similar declaration at her party’s conference on Sunday (28 April).

During a speech in Edinburgh, the Scottish independence champion said that young climate activists, who have taken the streets of many of Europe’s cities in recent months, “are right”. Scotland has already banned fracking and committed to going carbon neutral by 2050.

“A few weeks ago, I met some of the young climate change campaigners who’ve gone on strike from school to raise awareness of their cause,” Sturgeon said. “As first minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency. And Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle it.”

Both declarations by the devolved parliaments drew heavily on the recent findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which revealed the possible impact of increased global warming.

Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg has urged EU leaders and even Pope Francis to “listen to the science” during several high profile appearances in national seats of power, Brussels and the Vatican.

Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to ‘panic like the house is on fire’

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, made an impassioned plea for the planet at the European Parliament on Tuesday (16 April), urging MEPs to “start panicking about climate change” rather than “waste time arguing about Brexit”.

This week, UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to force a House of Commons vote on Wednesday (1 May) that will give members of parliament the chance to declare a UK-wide climate emergency.

The Labour leader, along with his liberal and green counterparts, met with Thunberg last week but Prime Minister Theresa May was a no-show. A spokesperson insisted that no meeting request had been made.

Corbyn hopes that other countries will follow Britain’s lead if Westminster becomes the first parliament to take the leap.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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